When Nancy Silverton makes these richly flavored onions at her house in Umbria, Italy, she roasts them with the wild fennel that grows on her property. To replicate the complex flavor of wild fennel in Los Angeles, Silverton uses a combination of fennel stalks, fronds and pollen.
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2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
4 teaspoons balsamic vinegar
Fronds and stalks from 1 fennel bulb, the bulb reserved for another use
1 very large red onion, cut into 8 wedges through the root end
8 bay leaves
1 teaspoon fennel pollen or finely ground fennel seeds
How to Make It
Preheat the oven to 400°. In a 10-inch ovenproof skillet, mix 4 teaspoons of the olive oil with 2 teaspoons of the vinegar and a pinch of sea salt. Spread the fennel fronds and stalks in the skillet and top with the onion wedges. Drizzle the remaining 2 teaspoons each of olive oil and balsamic vinegar over the onion wedges and top each one with a bay leaf. Sprinkle with the fennel pollen and a pinch of salt.
Cut out a round of parchment paper slightly larger than the skillet. Crumple the round under running water, open it up and place it directly over the onion wedges. Cover the skillet with foil and bake the onion wedges in the center of the oven for 40 minutes, or until tender. Remove the foil and parchment paper.
Turn the onion wedges and cook over high heat on the stove until most of the liquid in the skillet has evaporated, about 1 minute. Transfer the onion wedges and fennel to a plate, discarding the bay leaves and serve.
The onion wedges can be refrigerated overnight. Let return to room temperature before serving.
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